Felix Jones will be part of Steve Borthwick's coaching group going forward
South Africa assistant coach Felix Jones will leave his role with the Springboks at the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup to take up a position within Steve Borthwick‘s England set-up.
The former Ireland full-back joined South Africa as a defence consultant in 2019 and helped oversee the Springboks as they claimed the World Cup title in Japan before signing a four-year deal as an assistant coach in 2020.
In that guise, Jones helped South Africa to a Test series win over the British and Irish Lions in 2021. He was based in the UK and kept close tabs on the South African players in Europe but has decided to leave his job at the end of his contract due to personal reasons with a young family.
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South Africa’s director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, said: “It’s a big loss for the Springboks to lose a coach of Felix’ calibre.
“While we are saddened by the decision, we know how difficult it was for him to make that call and we fully understand the reasons. He’s been an asset to the Springboks in the last few years and the way he has evolved in his role and willingly took on additional responsibilities to ensure that the team functioned as optimally as possible in his areas of expertise, has been admirable.
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“We know Felix will remain fully committed to the Springboks’ cause and give everything as we attempt to defend our Rugby World Cup title in France, and hopefully we can make it a special and memorable send-off for him later this year.”
Jones added: “Coaching the Springboks is one of the biggest privileges in rugby and I intend to do everything I can to ensure the team is successful until the day my contract comes to its natural end.
“The last four years has been an incredible journey for me and my family, both professionally and personally, I am indebted to so many people at the Springboks and in South Africa for that.
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“My commitment to the Springboks until the end of the Rugby World Cup is unquestionable, and Rassie, Jacques (Nienaber – Springbok head coach) and the entire Springbok team know that.
“The next five months are going to be exciting and demanding, and I’m looking forward to preparing for the World Cup with this coaching team.”
The RFU confirmed the news of Jones’s impending arrival after South Africa’s release announced it. Jones is the second member of the South Africa coaching group that beat England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final in Japan to join Borthwick’s staff after Aled Walters, who is joining alongside Richard Wigglesworth from Leicester Tigers.
Borthwick said: “Our immediate focus is on preparation for the Rugby World Cup 2023.
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“We are continuing to build our programme to be in a position to compete to be world champions once again. At the same time, I also want to ensure we are preparing for long term success for this England team, and I am excited that a coach as talented as Felix is joining next year.
“Felix has been competing at the top of world rugby during his four years with South Africa and will bring invaluable experience to our set up. Like with Aled Walters, Felix was an integral part of the team that won the Rugby World Cup in 2019.
“Together with Richard Wigglesworth and Kevin Sinfield, we are putting in place a coaching team who have spent their careers at the highest level competing for trophies. That is exactly what we want for this England team.”
England confirmed recruit is ongoing for a new forwards coach, after Matt Proudfoot was removed by Borthwick upon his arrival to replace Eddie Jones and scrum coach Richard Cockerill having left for Montpellier after the Six Nations.
Further specialist coaches will be added as England prepare for the 2023 World Cup.
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